Global Range: RESIDENT: Himalayas from Nepal and northern India east to northern Burma and central China. INTRODUCED: established in Hawaii in 1918. Abundant on most islands by 1940s but has been declining since; now rare on Kauai and Oahu, still common on Molokai, Maui, and Hawaii (AOU 1983).
occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Year-round
Length: 14 cm
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Undergrowth, brushy areas, dense second growth; in forested regions. Hawaii: in virtually any habitat with leafy shrubs, most common in native rain forest, mamane scrub, and planted groves of conifers, black wattle and eucalyptus (Pratt et al. 1987). Nests in various sites: in weed clumps < 1 m above ground, in shrubs and trees several m above ground, near end of tree fern frond, etc. (Berger 1981).
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Comments: Eats fruit, flower petals, buds, insects, snails.
Often in small (family?) groups (Pratt et al. 1987).
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Hawaii: nesting season at least March-August; clutch size 2-4; nestling period about 11 days (Berger 1981).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Leiothrix lutea
Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Leiothrix lutea
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
The red-billed leiothrix (Leiothrix lutea) is a member of the Leiothrichidae family, and is native to the Indian subcontinent. Adults have bright red bills and a dull yellow ring around their eyes. Their backs are dull olive green, and they have a bright yellow-orange throat with a yellow chin; females are somewhat duller than males, and juveniles have black bills. It has also been introduced in various parts of the world, with small populations of escapees having existed in Japan since the 1980s. It has become a common cagebird and amongst aviculturists it goes by various names: Pekin robin, Pekin nightingale, Japanese nightingale, and Japanese (hill) robin, the last two being misnomers as it is not native to Japan.
The leiothrix is about six inches in length, generally olive green, and has a yellow throat with orange shading on the breast. It also has a dull yellowish ring around the eye that extends to the beak. The edges of the wing feathers are brightly colored with yellow, orange, red and black and the forked tail is olive brown and blackish at the tip. The cheeks and side of the neck are a bluish gray color. The female is a lot paler than the male and lacks the red patch on the wings. It doesn't fly frequently, except in open habitats. This bird is very active and an excellent singer but very secretive and difficult to see.
Distribution and habitat
The leiothrix is usually found in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma and parts of Tibet. This species is a bird of the hill forests, found in every type of jungle though it prefers pine forests with bushes. It has also been found at elevations ranging from near sea level to about 7,500 feet.
The species was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands in 1918 and spread to all the forested islands except Lanai. Its population on Oahu crashed in the 1960s and it disappeared from Kauai, but is now common and increasing on Oahu. The leiothrix was released in Western Australia but it failed to become established. This species was also introduced in Great Britain but permanent establishment was unsuccessful. It was introduced to France, where it is now established in several areas.
Ecology and behavior
This bird feeds on both plant and animal matter. It eats fruits such as strawberries, ripened papaya, guavas and also various species of Diptera, Mollusca, Lepidoptera, and Hymenoptera. Its food is usually gathered from foliage and dead wood and it usually searches for food in lower strata of vegetation.
The leiothrix can usually be found in a group of about ten to thirty birds during the non-breeding season; however, during the breeding season the birds break off into pairs and become territorial. These birds have a song which consists of short powerful notes that are repeated continuously throughout the year but it is more persistent during the breeding season. This period usually lasts from early April until September and they are usually found around well watered areas. The males sing long complex songs with a wide array of syllables to attempt to attract the female.
The leiothrix is an open cup nester. The nests of the red-billed leiothrix are composed of dry leaves, moss and lichen; however, they are not well hidden because concealment isn't really a primary factor when determining a nest site. Several nests are found between April and June and are placed within ten feet of the ground. Dense vegetation provides the shrub nesting species protection against predators.
The eggs of the leiothrix are found in clutches of two to four eggs with an average of three. They are broad and blunt in shape with some gloss on the outside and they also have a pale blue color and red like brown spots that encircle the larger end of the eggs. The newly hatched birds have bright red skin and a rich orange red gape.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Leiothrix lutea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- Long, John L. Introduced Birds Of The World. 1981
- Whistler , Hugh . Popular Handbook Of Indian Birds. 4th ed. 1963.
- Male, T.D., Fancy, S.G, and Ralph, C.J. "Red- Billed Leiothrix." The birds of North America (1998)
- Hvass, Hans. Birds of the World In Color. 1964.
- Berger, Andrew. Hawaiian Birdlife. 1972.
- Hawaii's Birds. Honolulu: Hawaii Audubon Society. 2005. p. 104. ISBN 1-889708-00-3.
- Amano, Hitoha, and Kazuhiro Eguchi. "Nest Site Selection of the Red-billed Leiothrix and Japanese Bush Warbler in Japan." (2002)
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: Includes L. ASTLEYI.